6 Ways to Sharpen Your Driving Skills to Stay Safe on Florida Roads & Highways

With so many tourists visiting Florida every year, the public roadways can be especially dangerous. In fact, auto accidents rank among the leading causes of death in the state. According to Florida’s Integrated Report Exchange System (FIRES), there were nearly 400 thousand, total motor vehicle crashes in 2018, over 155 thousand of them resulting in injury. In order to stay safe, motorists must maintain an elevated sense of awareness. Here are six ways to sharpen your driving skills.

Rule #1: Slow Down — Seriously!

At times, it seems everyone wants to be in the fast lane. Unfortunately, speeding makes you far more likely to get involved in a crash. When driving at a high rate of speed, you can’t react as quickly to obstacles in the road. Driving too fast is one of the most common ways to become just another statistic.

The NHTSA has published a Speeding Fact Sheet. According to their data, consistently around ⅓ of driving fatalities in the United States involve speeding. This puts driving too fast at the top of the list of things you don’t want to do behind the wheel.

Keep in mind that the faster you drive, the longer the distance your travel during reaction time. Not only must you be on the lookout for other vehicles, but you also have to stay alert for animals crossing the road, distractions in the car, and more. So, if another vehicle swerves into your lane or a bee flies in through the window and stings you on the hand, slower driving speeds will lead to an increased chance of your ability to respond safely.

Being late to school or work definitely prompts some people to want to speed. Instead of taking a grave risk by rushing, leave home a few minutes earlier than usual and drive the speed limit — 55, stay alive!

Rule #2: Become a Defensive Driver

Defensive drivers are always prepared for emergencies. When driving, you should develop a habit of looking head. This will help improve your reaction time, thus helping you to better respond to road hazards. It’s also a good idea to yield when necessary. Don’t hesitate to let the other driver go first.

Perhaps the most important aspect of being a defensive driver involves having patience. You should always maintain a sense of calm. Don’t allow drivers with road rage to throw you off track.

The impact of safe driving techniques is why many auto insurance providers offer discounts for individuals who have taken a defensive driving course in the state of Florida. These courses are available both on and offline and you will learn basic defensive driver’s safety techniques.

  • Defensive Driving Techniques
  • Alcohol & Drug Abuse, Violations, and Safety
  • Florida Traffic Laws
  • Rules of the Road
  • Sharing the Road with Other Drivers, Motorcyclists, Bicyclists, and Pedestrians

In a program like this, you will learn more than you ever could from just taking your basic driver’s exam. It’s a surprise these classes aren’t mandatory, especially for inexperienced drivers.

Rule #3: Exercise Extreme Caution When it Rains

When you encounter bad weather, it’s especially important to drive with caution. Although it rarely snows in Florida, you must stay prepared for rainstorms during monsoon season. Heavy downpours and gusty wind can dramatically reduce visibility.

As a matter of fact, in the United States, according to NHTSA, nearly 5 times more fatal crashed happen in the rain than in the snow. Furthermore, in Florida, in 2016, there were 169 fatal auto accidents when it was raining.

This is How to Drive Safely in the Rain:

When driving in the rain, it’s essential to keep a firm grip on the steering wheel and stay alert. Because vehicles don’t stop as quickly on slippery surfaces, it’s also crucial to stay a safe distance away from the vehicle ahead of you. Moreover, don’t forget to turn on your headlights. Aside from making your vehicle more visible to other drivers, it can prevent you from getting a ticket.

And, keep in mind Rule Number One. Driving at safe speeds is even more crucial when the roads are slippery. Your tires aren’t going to grip the roads as well as they will in normal driving conditions. Sudden stops in a vehicle are safer when your speed is lower.

Rule #4: Never Drive When You‘re Tired

According to an experienced attorney, sleep-deprived driving is a recipe for disaster. The CDC says that approximately 1 out of 25 adult drivers may have fallen asleep at the wheel last week in the United States. Driving while drowsy can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence of intoxicants. When exhausted while at the wheel, your level of concentration plummets.

There are some people who are at a higher risk of driving while drowsy. So, if you fall into one of these categories, it might save your life to pay extra attention to this rule.

  1. Drivers who simply don’t get enough sleep (insomniacs, new parents, etc.)
  2. Commercial drivers operating tow trucks, tractor trailers, buses, long-haul trucks, etc.
  3. Shift workers who aren’t on a regular 9:00-5:00 schedule.
  4. Drivers with untreated sleep disorders (sleep apnea, narcolepsy, etc.)
  5. Patients prescribed medication that makes them drowsy.

Warning Signs That You’re Driving in an Unsafe Condition:

While some of these signs may seem obvious, if you’re not paying attention, you could miss them. Some signs that it’s time for you to find a spot to pull over are yawning or blinking frequently, difficulty remembering the past few miles driven, missing your exit, drifting from your lane, hitting a rumble strip on the side of the road.

If you find yourself experiencing any of these symptoms, check yourself immediately. If there is a licensed passenger in the car, it might be time to let them take over. If not, find the next place to pull over and get some rest.

This is How to Overcome Tired Driving:

The best way to overcome tired driving is to get plenty of rest. Aim to get at least the recommended seven hours of sleep per night. And, never drive if you question your ability to not only stay awake but more importantly pay attention behind the wheel. While it may seem impossible at times, it’s simple and your life is worth more than whatever requires you to drive across town.

If you do suffer from a sleep disorder that makes it difficult to get to work safely, consult with a physician to find a solution. In the meantime, use public transportation or Uber/ Lyft to get to and from work.

Rule #5: Focus on the Task at Hand When Behind the Wheel

With so much technology around us, it’s easier than ever to become distracted while at the wheel. And most driving happens when your brain is on autopilot — but that’s also how accidents occur. You may have noticed that paying attention has become a theme in this driver’s safety guide; that’s because driving is a task that requires your complete concentration. A momentary loss of focus can lead to a major disaster.

Even simple things, such as eating a burger or adjusting the volume on the stereo can take your attention off the road. While there are a number of potential driving distractions, cell phone use is by far the most dangerous. When texting while driving, you’re essentially driving blind. Just pay attention and you’ll have less to worry about.

According to the DMV, texting while driving is the leading cause of death in teens, 42% of which said, in 2015, that they had texted behind the wheel. The previous year, 26% of all auto accidents involved the use of a cell phone. A minimum of 9 people are killed and 1,000 injured every day by a distracted driver.

This is How to Stay Focused on Driving:

There are three types of driving distractions that can be dangerous: visual, manual, and cognitive. Anything that takes your eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, and/ or your focus away from safe driving should be avoided at all costs.

  • Avoid the use of your cell phone completely when driving.
  • Wait until you get to your destination or pull over before eating, applying makeup, checking your hair in the mirror, or anything else that takes your focus away from the road.
  • Pull over before adjusting seatbelts and vehicle controls including the radio station.
  • Never turn your head to look at other passengers while driving.
  • Avoid driving when you are highly emotional (sad, angry, etc.).

Remember that even singing along to the radio can be a distraction from your responsibilities as a driver. So, keep your eyes on the road, your hands on the wheel, and your mind on the task in front of you. Learning to pay attention when getting from point A to point B could save your life or someone else’s.

Rule #6: Keep up With Auto Maintenance

Even if you are the best driver in the world, a poorly maintained vehicle puts you in jeopardy. According to the NHTSA, about 33% of auto accidents involve only one vehicle, which puts you at risk with a poorly-maintained vehicle. But, it also puts other drivers at risk.

If your brakes go out while you’re coming up to a stop light, you could cause a major pile-up in the middle of an intersection. And, if your tire blows out while you’re driving on the freeway, there’s no telling how many injuries this might cause. To ensure your safety and that of drivers sharing the road with you, it is your responsibility to maintain your vehicle.

Perhaps it’s a good idea to spend less money on your stereo system and window tinting, and more on engine and body maintenance. Below are some of the critical checkpoints for maintaining your vehicle so you can stay safe on the road.

Auto Maintenance Checklist:

Brakes – Your brakes are of the utmost importance. During panic situations on the road, you need the maximum stopping power. In the event that you hear your brakes squealing or grinding, have them inspected immediately. If anything is wrong, they are worn, or soon to be, have them replaced with haste.

Tires – Tire care is equally crucial. While low tread depth decreases traction, underinflated tires are more prone to experiencing a sudden blowout. So, your tires should be inspected by a professional annually to ensure a dependable condition. When you need to replace them, do so promptly. And, don’t buy used tires unless there is no other option.

Headlights & Blinkers – Your vehicle’s headlights are another crucial safety feature, designed to keep you and other drivers safe on the road. While you may be able to see fine with only one headlight, oncoming drivers could get a false sense of their distance from you on the road or even mistake your car or truck for a motorcycle. Be sure that all of your headlights and blinkers work properly before taking your automobile onto the road.

Routine Tune-Ups & Fluid Changes – Check the owner’s manual for your vehicle to find out how often the manufacturer recommends waiting between routine tune-ups and oil changes. Never let the next oil change slip your mind. In fact, try to make it in to have your oil checked about 100 miles before it’s recommended. Furthermore, don’t simply ignore a check engine light. You never know what the root of the problem could be.

Final Thoughts

Following these rules will greatly improve your odds of staying safe while driving. But, as with many things in life, there are no guarantees. If you are in an accident, make sure to consult with an experienced auto accident attorney who can represent you if legal action needs to be taken. Stay safe out there!


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